Rejseblog

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May 3d-8th, last part of tour

On Flickr you will see pictures from Milwaukee and Chicago, together with Alash Ensemble and my sister-in-law, Sveta, kids, and so forth.

After leaving Milwaukee, driving 16h to New Jersey, and then on a train from New York 12h to Toronto, and after performing in Toronto and becoming a regular at the fantastic vege-restaurant Fresh situated 100 meters from my hotel, I finally have the time I was looking forward to: A tiny bit of Canadian wild nature or ”seeing some Canadian trees” before returning to Europe via three air rides:

Algonquin National Park

3 hours drive in rented car, North-northeast of Toronto to the Western Gate of Algonquin National Park (the name of a tribe, not totally extinguished. In a brief history of the park it says that ”tribes came here to gather beeries and hunt” – interesting verbal turn; ‘came here’ – as on ‘holiday’ from where they REALLY lived? Well…).

Close to the gate of the park I find my way to my booked room at Wolf’s Den – a bunk place made of several log houses in ‘Nordic’ style; and a place with a declared organic and ecological approach to running a hostel, and living on this planet. In the main house you have access to two large dinning tables, two cooking islands and two zinks, a huge fridge and lots of shelves, upstairs sofas, downstairs rooms of various sizes. Outside are bungalows of various sizes. In my room there’s not much more space than the big bed – and on the wall an almost intact snowshoe of the local (native) style – very long and fish-shaped. Made of sinews, extremely beautiful and very well-made.

In the kitchen & living room I get various advices from other visitors (2 French, 2 Brits, 1 Aussie, 2 Germans, and 2 local Canadians) concerning morning spotting of moose, and rules should one encounter one of the 2000 Black Bears in the park.

Sauna

Wolf’s Den has a small sauna, relatively ok, though very simple – no thermometer, no sand-clock, very few stones, so the strong heat doesn’t stay so long. A special, slightly bitter smell that I remember from Tuva and Khakassia. Is it the cedar logs it is built of?

10pm, springtime darkness. Walking from the sauna towards the kind of outdoor showers, in a slight drizzle of rain and with thousands and thousands of Spring Peepers from the wetland a few hundred meters away. The water is so cold and fresh it makes me laugh out loud. I return to relaxe in the homebuilt chair outside the sauna, enjoying the sound of the drizzling rain, all the spring smells it enhances, and again, the fantastic sound of these tiny tiny frogs in their enormous choir. Then another go in the sauna.

All this is of course just a ”subscribtion” on Nature Mild. Its got very little to do with the real wilderness a few kilometers north of the corridor made by Highway 60.

Road Cultures

No matter what – this place is a haven and a surprising contrast to the ugliness along the road. Almost all the way up north from Toronto: Huge, badly-designed signs adverting all kinds of leisuretime activities. In my short time in the US, I never saw so many kilometers with so many (ugly) signs as here… Impressive.
And then of course passing bungalows with signs saying: Trade Post, General Store, or Supplies Store – consciously made in Western/Immigrant style.
As an absurd contrast to this, the signs showing speed limit in Ontario are so small, you really have to look for them, to find them (and they are also very few). Perhaps this is the reason why the Canadians, like us but unlike the Americans in the Mid-West and South-West, do not keep to the speed limits?
I can’t make up my mind if the Canadian ”style” of talking to its drivers/citizens is a bit like the American, or if it is more direct and less chíldish? This sign for instance:
”Squeeze left” – or ”Check your mirrors for motorbikes”. It might border on the patronising American tone found countless places, for instances on the right side-mirror of your car: ”OBJECTS MAY BE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR IN MIRROR”

Animals and air

Next day no moose spotting, but lots of walking various paths, along lakes and streams in the huge huge forest with lots and lots and lots of small wildlife – some of them really really close. And some from the Den met two girls who had seen a bear that day!

The air here is incredible, but very very breathable… And Richard Louvs book ”Last Child in The Woods” about contemporary lifes ”nature deficit” and its negative effects on children and their lives as grown ups is not surprisingely very important to Ben, the host of Wolf’s Den.

The air, yes – and the spring peepers after sunset – when driving back South-East and passing wetlands I can hear them, even through closed windows!

Toronto revisited

Approaching Toronto at 10pm, I first see the violet-yellowis glow on the cloudy sky – the city casts its light out in space… Then I hover above it, the highway-ribbons lift me above this pulsating sea of light. Finally I leave the highway and descend into the city, into the grid of streets, also used here – and the perspective changes.

What this grid does to navigation, not only the step-by-step navigation of local or tourist, but on a higher, more mental level – is the topic for a whole lot of thoughts. Simon Dove, from England and since 5 years in Arizona, has opinions very alike mine, but he has longer empirical observations: The grid is made to make navigation easy. But it also makes people think in results (arrival) more than in process (the travel). Perhaps the curved, irregular (or originally circular) structure of cities as we know them from medieval towns in Europe stimulates the possibility of diviations, of diviating from the path – or forthright getting lost. This way the tour, the travel itself can become more dominant…

Back in Toronto, back at the bustling night life version of the main street Bloor (pronouncing THAT right must be one of The Canadian Tests), I wonder where the mad people are now. Walking back from delivering the car it is somewhat nice, though. An asylum is situated very near, and at daytime the percentage of clearly rawing individuals in the streets is… remarkable, and sad.

 This will be my exit note on Toronto, Canada, the tour as there is already too much for any normally busy person to read. Ha! – you made it to here! My compliments!!

PS

Could anyone reading this, who might know the answer, please tell me why appearantly no-one in US nor Canada has invented or realized the existence of the hand shower whatever its called in proper English, telephone shower? I mean, Sean says with a smile that can meet a lot of things: This way (with the water splashing uncontrolled down over you) you have both your hands free. Well, YES, but this goes also for the European version, where you can place the telephone shower or whatever in various positions and thus have hands free OR accomodate people like me, who do not like fighting stupid irrational fear of drowning while washing yourself…

PPS

– my food recommendations in case you did not get here via facebook
Below is info on great places to eat in the US and Canada (listed in my travel-chronologia):

Arizona, Tuscon: www.thetastefulkitchen.com – vegetarian haut cuisine, indeed very very tasty.

Maryland, Baltimore: ”The Helmand Restaurant” – Afghan cuisine, food that makes your heart sing and your legs weak. www.helmand.com

Washington DC, The Mall: The National Museum of The American Indian: Mitsitam Native Foods Café, www.mitsitamcafe.com

New York, Brooklyn: ”The Farm” – A rather good and inventive kitchen, nothing crazily special, but cosy – but then I mention at least one place in NYC, give me that, Big Apple! www.thefarmonadderley.com

Toronto, Canada:
”Fresh”, 3 places – the absolute best vegetarian food and restaurant concept I have ever ever met!
(pretty detailed menues online, so get inspired!) www.freshrestaurants.ca

”Mother’s Dumplings” on Sidona – Superb Chinese food in the heart of Toronto, food as it tastes in China. www.mothersdumplings.com

And then of course Pils powerful, creamy pot & home-made mashed potatoes, Johns great Sunday Dinner and Magdas superb soup…

Add as well, a great and inspiring place to stay:
Wolf’s Den, Huntsville, West Gate of Algonquin National Park, Ontario, Canada – www.wolfdenbunkhouse.com

THANKS FOR READING!

 

Since April 24th…  (photos here)

Miscellaneous
I joined one of my hosts Charles for a good yoga session at YMCA, spent a day & two nights in New York City, and walked the rainy streets there (or some of them), spent all in all 10 hours at two National Museums of the American Indian (Washington DC and New York), received beautiful big book presents from the workshop coordinator in the NY museum, and was at a jazz concert in a Synagoge with another of my hosts, Garth. I’ve been a tourist in Baltimore, including the Museum of Visionary Art, having my host John show me around (he lived here until the age of 10). With him guested a very interesting laboratory work (Play Lab) at Center Stage, Baltimore with Liz Lerman (former artistic leader of Dance Exchange, and thus former boss of John) and Jo Joella Willa Jo Zollar. Flown through a kind of storm and seen (a bit of) Kansas & and a lot of their cows from above as well as from the earth, even though it wasn’t part of the plan, and seen & heard the employees tell about the 10 sparrows living happily in Denver Airport, Colorado. I’ve enjoyed Alash Ensemble at concert in Chicago and done a version of my own thing for the big audience there, experienced three school concerts with Alash in different Milwaukee schools, had a gig cancelled despite my wish, spoken my bad Russian and learned a bit of Tuvan (being together with 5 adult speaking it, and 3 kids understanding it…), seen an eagle sitting by its nest, and other eagles flying over the freeway, and seen huge road billboards showing name and photo of persons who have ”comitted crimes against children”.

Experienced two raining trees (I still need a full botanical explaination but is seems like some kind of willow or lind, sprouting and having a surplus of nectar), as well what as Lake Michigan is capable of: Heavy mist, heavy thunder and within just 10 hours both cold and warm humidity. Danish humidity and change of weather is nothing compared to the effects of this huge lake.

Distances and food
On the sky you see what in Danish is called ‘kornmod’ (ripening of crops), and in English heat lightening. Then you drive an hour or more, and you’ve come just a bit closer to this phenomenon. Later, driving up into the Pennsylvania Wilds, the mountains, the lightenings turns into one of the wildest thunderstorm I’ve ever experienced anywhere.

So, I am realizing that I am getting used to the distances here, as well as the sizes of things. Not foodwise, I have been spared so far for ”real” supermarkets (more below), but the size of freeways and cars (Alash is driving a rather American band van…) – and I must prepare for Denmark feeling very small and tiny upon my return. I can myself hear a bit of American accent in my English – as well as American expressions – but some people say I sound Irish…
Foodwise I have been lucky and so far been able to only get groceries in wholefoods shops – coops, memberowned and true oasises of real, clean, healthy and fantastic food. But to what prices? Filling a paper bag just half, with fruit and other stuff good for a longer car drive: Almost 400 DKK. No wonder, looking at what’s otherwise on sale, that the poor are fat. Only once did I have to venture into a ”real” supermarket – buying a specific type of cereal requested by a dear friend – and here I met what I have met so many other places in the States: Not bad food, but what I now call Evil Food (as opposed to Good Food). Evil because there is so much profit thinking behind the extremely low quality level of what is sold as supposedly nourishing and life securing items.

Tap water is sometimes drunken. But for a Danish nose, it all smells and tastes of clorine – stronger or less strong. Sometimes the only bottled water you can buy, is purified water, ”with added minerals for taste” (produced by Coca Cola or Nestle), but at other times you can actually buy bottles spring water. We have indeed entered the phase of shortening water supplies on this planet.

Itinaries and the like
On my way from South West to East Coast and from there to Mid West I have done quite a bit of flying. And two places – New Mexico and Colorado – I’ve seen circular fields. Its to do with irigation systems, byt when seen from high above, its a beautiful pattern.

I’ve passed through the following states: Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania to New Jersey on a 16h drive from Milwaukee to New York City. Of the 815 miles I drove some 300 miles while Sean got to sleep.
In these states lived – either before the white man arrived at this continent or during the 18th and 19th century – the following tribes, amongst others: Kikapuh, Wyandot, Menonanee, Shanee, and Winnapego.

At the speed of 110 km/h I managed to steer our van safely over a dead dear lying in the middle of the freeway. Suddenly it was just there, in front of the van. It was bumby, and sounded gory when we must have severed head and hind legs, but the van stayed steady and we survived.
We passed place names like Notre Dame, Plymoth, Niles, Angola, Archbold, Fayette, Vermillion, Elyria, Baumgart, Armhest, Berlin Rd, St. Petersburg, Genova, and Corsica – not to mention all the Native names I have all but forgotten because of their strangeness to me. [Amsterdam, Syracuse]

We drove through Pennsylvania Wilds, which despite nightfall revealed their beauty, and we passed a thunderstorm of the same dimensions as this country itself. One of the most wild thing was perhaps approaching the storm: The lightenings travelled horizontally across the skye, above the mountains we were about to ascend. What a scenery!
Pennsylvania has humour, a sign saying: ”Buckle up for the next million miles.”

And another, less humorous but huge billboard in Indiana:
”Who cares for the land? I do” [signed:] AmericanFarmers, Monsanto

And one lifted index finger we could use on Danish highways: ”Don’t tailgate” (written like this)

Entering New Jersey you can then experience the following sign several places along the freeway:
”Scenic overlook closed from dusk till dawn.”
This made me laugh. Sean wondered why? Because its like the scenic overlook, the panorama is a commodity, its there just for us and our use of it; and it will be closed, almost as in non-existing, at certain times. The world is there for us to use…

From Thursday till Friday I stayed at Magda’s place in New Jersey, a Polish friend of Sean and Alash, whom I met in Tuva in 2010. Just 4min. walk away there is a small forest. Small, with some trash here and there, but otherwise very close to the forest of my childhood. A few paths through the shrubbery, huge trees (though, bigger than in Denmark), and otherwise a tiny piece of rather untouched nature – 25min. drive from downtown New York! And a groundhog sneaking away (but only once, no repititions…).

Early Friday Sean drove me from New Jersey to Pennsylvania Station in New York for my train ride to Toronto. Entering New York from the west side was really impressive, despite the heavy rain, mist and the 5 road casualties the radio informed us about:
When descending into the Lincoln Tunnel you get a view of Manhattan’s high profile on the other side of the Hudson River, and when exiting from the tunnel you are suddenly there, the skyscrabers rise above you, and the length of the streets are percieved better elevated a bit in the band van, than when I walked the streets a week ago.

More on travelling:
These horns (or whatever they are called) of the trains here… I heard them first time in Arizona, crossing a few meters from the space I was performing and sleeping in in Tuscon. It sounds to me as the very same noise that old steam locomotives of American Westerns produce. Since then I’ve heard this horn in Phoenix, AZ, on the East Coast (but somewhat far away and muffled by many very large trees), in Chicago, in New Jersey and now I am in the 2nd first coach of the train btw NYC and Toronto – hearing this horn almost all the time. When passing through inhabited areas, as well as when passing through miles and miles of forest, swamp and farmland… One reason is that the trails here are not fenced, as they are in Denmark. Another must be – guessing now – that its become a habit from when the buffalo still hadn’t learned to clear the tracks, and before it was almost extinct – and for some reason it is still a fact here that animals as well as humans will not hear an approaching train, nor really know its danger? This is written with tongue-in-cheek – but is remarkable how much the horn is sounded during these 12 hours.

Canada, arriving
Next stop is Niagara Falls Ontario… I naively wrote.
Having asked the US Amtrak employees if we could stay in the same train, stay put and get to Toronto – I got a clear ”Yes!”.
Now, I do remember that they indeed did have a bit of an evasive look in their eyes. As you see, the next thing that happening at the border is that we are all ushered out of the train (”bring all your belongings, you are not coming back to the same train again”), down the 10 steps to the platform – you know, boarder control platforms are on purpose very low so trains easily can be expected from underneeth. A fact I learned already in my youth, travelling in the time of the Iron Curtain. (The Canadian train employees helped with all the luggage, this I must give them.)
Then we stand in a line, in a room without toilets, but with curtains and surveillance cameras. More, like me, are protesting mildly to whoever nearby as we have been informed otherwise. Waiting for our turn to be interviewed by an officer. Two persons have their luggage x-rayed and are waiting for further interrogation, when the rest of us are climbing aboard the same train again (…), and off we drive, into Canada.

The adopt a highroad-system in US seems to work: Clean shoulders and sides of the freeways. The Canadian rails could do with a bit of garbage gathering…

Crossing at least 10 beautiful deep river beds with or without beautifull steel bridges, only managing to get my camera ready to photograph perhaps three of them. Very impressive, all of them.

* * *

25.4. NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN (Smithsonian)

– skrevet på tog Washington DC – New York

I dag eller senere vil der være Flickr-fotos fra The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian,
og fra Silver Spring/Takoma Residental Area med huse, som ifølge folk fra Vestkysten er ‘Oh, so East Coast’ og som for mig er ‘Oh, so American’ eller snarere må jeg indrømme, at udover at jeg klart nok genkender ‘det amerikanske landhus’, så ser jeg også en mængde sydtyske og engelske træk…!

 

I går var jeg her 1 time før lukketid for at konkludere at jeg måtte komme igen.
I dag har jeg så tilbragt 6 timer på National Museum of The American Indian i Washington – ikke bare et superspændende indhold, men hele rammen – arkitektur og koncept – er ganske imponerende:
Bygningen er holdt i kurver, af sandsten, og med et mindre vandfald, der symboliserer det vandløb, der i dag løber dybt under den store avenue, der forbinder Capitol og Lincoln Memorial. Rundt omkring ligger store klippestykker og sten – den yngste 300 år gammel, den ældste aeoner gammel. I de fire verdenshjørner ligger en sten fra fire udvalgte stammeområder, og disse er velsignet ved anbringelsen. Til gengæld har stammerne de fire steder fået et stykke af den sandsten, som museet er bygget af.
Med andre ord er hele komplekset fuldstændigt væsensforskelligt fra alle de andre magtdemonstrerende neoklassicistiske centralperspektiviske marengs-monumenter, der ellers ligger i dette område på en vest-øst akse, og som typisk er at finde på byers centrale strøg.
Med det samme jeg kom tæt nok på, åndede jeg dybt ind og følte mig hjemme – blandt de omgivende grønne beplantninger (med indfødte planter fra et bestemt område), vådområdet og vandløbet.

Indendørs er det gennemgående princip cirklen og kurver. Alle udstillingsrum er derfor opbygget med cirkler indeni cirkler – man kan nemt tabe orienteringen, men den største fare er at man vender tilbage til hvor man startede. Udmærket princip.
Masser af skærme og interaktive touch-screens. Så mange at en del rent statistisk set ikke virker. Men så meget andet er fantatisk, at det nemt tilgives. Fx: Hele konceptet med at de oprindelige folkeslag i de to amerika’er (nord og syd) selv fortæller deres version af deres historie og tydeligt understreger hvordan historieskrivning og beretninger altid er farvet af afsenderen. Næsten alle udsagn i udstillingerne (4 etager) har en navngiven afsender – altså en (oftest nutidig) person (inkl. stammetilhørsforhold) – altså et individ man kan placere i stedet for en navnløs, ‘alvidende’ museal afsender. (selvf. er denne strategi ikke altid brugbar, men i dette museum giver det fuldstændig mening)
Meget meget berigende, tankevækkende og rørende med helt andre tilgange til de sidste 600 års verdenshistorie end den, vi normalt møder i vestlige historiebøger. Fx kalder de indfødte (natives) Columbus’ to skibsanløb og de efterfølgende europæeres ankomst for ‘Contact’ (Hvor Europa jo kalder det Opdagelse og Ny Verden, etc.). Se fotos hvor noget af teksten kan dechifreres. Centralt for udlægningen af Contact er: To kontintener med hver sin urgamle historie fik pludselig kontakt, efter ikke at have kendt til hinandens eksistens.
I forlængelse af mine tanker fra 1. blogomgang så tænker jeg stadig og hver dag over hvordan verdenshistorien ellers kunne have set ud…? (frit fra hukommelsen): ”If the first farmers had arrived with nothing but good intent, the large deaths among the natives would still have happened – because of germs unknown to the indigenous peoples of the Americas.” 9 ud af 10 indfødte døde i perioden 1495 til 1650. Hvordan havde verdenshistorien set ud hvis de indfødte, hypotetisk set, havde modstået de europæiske sygdomme bedre – og derfor været flere i antal?

Den store aula man kommer ind i – efter gratis adgang og et hurtigt check af ens taskeindhold – er bygget så dagslyset falder ind foroven. En slags enorm yurt/tipee/igloo.
På alle etager er der ”Window to the Collections” – ud fra specifikke tematikker er genstande fra Smithsonians samlinger udstillet – og disse skifter løbende så alle stammer man i dag har kendskab til og artifakts fra bliver synlige. (NB er Smithsonian verdens største museum og forskningsinstitution.)
Selvfølgelig har de en aldeles forførende museumsbutik – udover div. merchandise (navajo rasler, salvierøgelsesbundter, etc. etc.) et HAV af spændende bøger…

I cafeteriaet – som er lidt forvirrende at komme ind i – er der mad fra de fem hovedregioner og stammernes (the tribes) lokale råvarer. Og hvilken mad! Halvvegetaren her må indrømme at jeg købte en superdyr ret med røget laks, 3 slags grøntsagsretter og… bøffel…! Nok blev bestanden på The Great Plains decimeret fra 1 mill. til 1.000 individer på bare ca. 5 årtier i sidste halvdel af 1800-tallet, men pt. har man altså også kommercielt bøffelhold. Og der er vel grænser for hvor ringe et liv en bøffel kan udsættes for, før slagtningen? Jeg håber i hvert fald at vi er nær noget, der ligner det liv en vildtpleje-ko har i DK. Smagen er stort set som hestekød, en anelse mindre sødt, men ligeså mørt og løst i fibrene.

I morgen, torsdag, er jeg i New York, og selvom her selvf. er ting at se og opleve til min. 6 mdr. aktiv turistliv, så har jeg valgt at fokusere på ”samme” museum her – og så se hvad jeg ellers falder over, udover koncert med den ene af mine NY-værter.

Hvorfor går jeg så specifikt efter de folkeslag, der i Canada kaldes First Nation?
– Fordi feltet rummer en rørende historie med udryddelsesforsøg, deportationer, respektløs fremfærd og hundreder af folkeslag, der uønsket blev revet og presset ud af deres liv, hjemsted og livsform? (Så ku jeg jo ligeså godt dykke ned i den amerikansk-jødiske europæiske forhistorie).
– Fordi jeg ca. 7-9 år gammel legede meget indianer og følte mig mest hjemme i skoven og blandt hestene?
– Fordi jeg er meget bevidst om mine egne nordiske rødder, styrket delvist gennem nordiske frænder, delvist gennem mine mange rejser til Tuva med meget kulturelt bevidste indbyggere, som enten regner med at man som europæer er kulturløs, eller forventer at man ved lige så meget om egen historie, tradition og rødder, som de om deres?
– Fordi jeg ved at jeg er efterkommer af dem, der ”altid” har boet i Norden (med whatever gode genetiske opdateringer mit slægsttræ end har modtaget udover de tyske for 300 år siden)?
– Fordi jeg er dybt forbundet med det land, hvor jeg er opvokset og har hjemme, og som ‘gammeltroende’ er tættere på de førkristne, animistiske verdenssyn, som Nordens landskaber rummer?

Der er delvise svar i ovenstående.

Grunden til at jeg opsøger denne del af Amerikas virkelighed, nutid og historie er, at det er den del, der forekommer mig virkelig – eller håndgribelig – eller i hvert fald relatérbar for mig. Hvorfor? Fordi disse mennesker vidste og ved hvordan ‘you live with the land’, hvordan man forholder sig til sine omgivelser, til landet, hvor man er.
Jeg oplever, at det er gennem disse mennesker, at jeg kan lære dette land at kende. For det var med dem, at det begyndt – menneskets interaktion med dette kontinent og dets forskellige landskaber. Ikke den aktuelle amerikanske kultur, byerne, etc. etc. Jeg oplever som en næsten automatisk ting, at jeg i respekt overfor landet, jeg nu besøger – jorden, skovene, vandet, klipperne – absolut må forholde mig til de, der var her fra starten. Alle de andre, der siden er ankommet, har skrevet en også meget håndgribelig, virkelig og bemærkelsesværdig historie. Men de er så synlige, at de ikke er til at komme udenom. Hvorimod landets første beboere er langt mere usynlige, selvom de er her endnu, og er ganske mange. Og jeg tror, at deres paradoksale eksistens og usynlighed er en vigtig del af den uundgåelige, synlige, aktuelle amerikanske virkelighed (hvad virkelighed nu end er for noget…). Det forekommer mig en interessant mental øvelse, eller respektfuld gerning at nærme mig dette land gennem de nulevende indfødtes øjne; delvist gennem deres version af historieskrivningen de sidste 600 år.

* * *

14.-24. april 2012
Hi there, how you’re doing, Ma’m?

Her følger rejseoptegnelser.
På dansk, for at være sikker på ikke at træde nogen af mine værter over tæerne…
Fotos her

AFREJSE, INDREJSE OG SMUK FONTÆNE
En flyver i Kastrup, som ved take-off på én gang accelererer og bremser… Jeg kan berette at det er en ret… abrupt fornemmelse! Sidenhen gik al flyvningen dog ganske smooth; 8.5time i træk tværs over Atlanten. Men ih guder, alle disse interviews og krydstjeck inden man ku gå ombord – sammen med pludseligt en større procentdel fede mennesker, end jeg er vant til at se…
Mellemlanding i en lufthavn med for mig enorme dimensioner, uendelige gange, samme gulvtæppe kvadratmeter efter kvadratmeter og usandsynligt store lokumskummer med skræmmende vandforbrug – men ifølge Sean er Detroit dog en relativt lille lufthavn. Ved pastjeck afspilles en sukkersød velkomstvideo, mens et ægtepar bag mig siger: ”Please shoot me – if I ever say I wanna go to Europe again!” Han svarer: ”Yeah, sure, that’s it. Done that. Never again!” Vi får se hvordan jeg til gengæld har det med dette kontinent, når denne tur er ovre.

Men inden jeg kom frem til (den lille) lufthavns interne førerløse eksprestog mellem nord- og sydenderne af lufthavnen (- et tog, som minder betænkeligt meget om vor Metro, bare i rødt. Ansaldo også in the US), måtte jeg ikke blot gennem den åbenbart obligatoriske affotografering af alle fingeraftryk, men også gennem specialforhør med en af de lidet charmerende typer fra Homeland Security. My oh my var DET en oplevelse! Jeg foretrækker en russisk official til hver en tid, må jeg desværre konkludere. Alt jeg sagde; tonefald, etc. blev brugt imod mig; vendt til spørgsmål om motiv og ting á la ”Don’t tell us what you think we want to hear”, ”Sit down, I’ll see what can be done.” ”Who can I call to verify your story?” Senere går det op for denne mand, trænet i paranoia sammenflettet med professionel dumhed, at det er alvor med de 24 rumænerne han snart skal til at interviewe. Da siger han venligt ”I’ll get you out of here,” og ganske rigtigt får jeg hurtigt mine nødvendige stempler.
I de endeløse meter af gates krydsede jeg senere den danske far og hans søn, som også var med det første teknikplagede fly – han siger: ”Så kom man så langt…” og jeg svarer, i det vi zombietrætte, vågne på 18. time, går forbi hinanden: ”SINDsygt land!”, og hører ham grine bejaende bag mig.

Nå, det var en noget kritisk brokstart. Detroit Lufthavn kan dog også præsentere noget ganske fantastisk: Fontænen centralt i lufthavnen, skabt af californske www.wetdesign.com – find filmen om Detroit Metro Airport; den gir lidt et indtryk af dette meget smukke og morsomme værk – men som med det meste, er det langt fra selv at opleve det.

HEDE OG VAND
Mine værtinders lille lave hus er selv uden aircondition dejligt køligt, også i baghaven under det kæmpemæssige mesquitas-træ, som de har døbt Aiova (? altså efter Avatartræet). Men udenfor rammer den tørre hede en, som en mur. Og det er endnu kun køligt forår, temperaturerne nåede op omkring 30-35 grader. Hele dette boligområde præsenterer hus skulder ved hus, men alle meget individuelt udsmykkede eller overhovedet ikke. Idyliske faktisk. Dette er i høj grad også skabt af hvor grønt her er, hvor mange træer – blomstrende, appelsin- og citrontræer, etc. Et kunstigt mini-Californien, skabt for at folk skulle have lyst til at bo i ørkenen. For at alle disse store træer og buske kan overleve, oversvømmes haverne to gange om måneden via ventiler nedlagt i græsset. Alle har i dag en forståelse af denne praksis absolut ikke er bæredygtig, men intet alternativ er endnu fundet.

BILLLEJE
Heldigvis kan man godt leje en bil i USA som ikke er et stort benzinslugende og motorlarmende monster. Men den ganske almindelige Toyota jeg lejede for at kunne køre til mit spillejob i Tuscon torsdag, MÅTTE jeg bare prøvekøre – jeg ville gerne lidt ud af byen og se at der var landskab og uendelighed udenfor byens velplejede og velvandede koordinatsystem. Det blev en mindre tur ud i det indianske reservat mod øst, Salt Lake. Og mit ‘men’ ovenfor kom sig af, at jeg kunne mærke ”den-der trang” til at køre lige ud i et par dage… Den må med andre ord ligge i landskabet… eller i kombination med den uundgåelige mængde af amerikanske roadmovies som en almindelig europæisk opvækst giver?
Uanset dette, tænker jeg allerede fra første dag her, at 400 år er nok til totalt at forandre et kontinents skæbne, og ”gad vide hvordan verden ville se ud, hvis europæerne ikke var emmigreret – eller hvis de var immigreret på en anden måde?” En tanke og tilgang til dette samfund, som det på ingen måde er lykkedes at ryste af mig i de følgende dage.

ABSOLUTELY no FIREARMS IN THIS LOCALE
”El Dorado Hot Springs”, vest for Phoenix. Worth the ride! I en labyrint af høje rækværk og div. skulpturer lavet af kaktusskeletter (primært af den store kaktus Saguardo, som er hellig for de oprindelige folk, og Arizonas branding objekt) betaler man og bliver ledt til ens pøl (det kan være private eller semi-private): Et stk. kunstnerisk udført højt bassin i eget stakitaflukke, skyggefuldt net over ens hoved, hjulpet af en stor palme og med egen udsigt over ørkenen og Saddle Mountain. 105 grader Fahrenheit, ca. 41 Celcius, en bruser og et badekar med koldt vand, samt solseng. Og ildsted til aften-sessions. Mmmmmmmm!
Efter 3 timer i dette paradis skulle jeg retur til Phoenix og have lidt at spise – den lokale Family Restaurant med nye mexicanske ejere blev anbefalet. Vi taler ‘lokal’ som i Shell Tank, politikontor og to-tre andre bygninger opstået lige der i et mix af motorvejsafkørslen og de varme kilder. Well, maden var så struktur- og smagsløs at den var tæt på uspiselig; appetit var tydeligtvis en by i Alaska. Og stedet – med det beroligende skilt på døren – var Freuds Unheimliche condensated: Alt er kendt fra film, og nu er du midt i det! Og selv hvis ikke du kendte det fra film, ville det stadigt være supersært (skulle jeg mene…): Væggene kødlyserøde, panelerne grønne, de fleste af de tætsiddende ventilatorer i det lave loft kørte, diner-sofaerne var brune og slidte, ligeså bordene. Diverse mærkværdige personager var tilstede, men mest markant var dog den række af mænd, der over en halv times tid kom ind i lokalet – alle som én langsomt gående i deres cowboybukser, og med deres store hvide cowboyhat på, og meget afmålte bevægelser – passende til stærk hede. Firearms left behind in the vehicle.

GRIDS
De amerikanske byer er udlagt i grids; koordinatsystemer. Hensigten er, at det skulle være lettere at navigere heri. Altså meget meget anderledes end den generelle struktur for en europæisk storby, uanset om den er vokset frem omkring og udover en bymur. I modsætning til europæerne, at large, har amerikanerne – takket være deres grid-struktur – en tilsyneladende altid aktiv viden om verdenshjørnerne, da alt ikke bare er organiseret efter gadernes numre, men også efter verdenshjørnerne. Simon Dove (UK) og jeg havde et par udvekslinger af europæiske iagttagelser – fx hvorvidt dette grid-system skaber simplificering af tænkning og ens relatering til omgivelserne…? Det viser sig, at Simon har skrevet en hel klumme til Ballettanz om hvordan han mener, at denne bystruktur påvirker mentaliteten, sådan at resultat/ankomst dominerer over rejsen/processen i sig selv, med mulighed for evt. digressioner, ekskurser og faren-vild uden mål & med… Interessant betragtning.

LOKUMMER
Uden at gå for meget i detaljer, så er det tankevækkende, meget tankevækkende hvordan de amerikanske lokummer er konstrueret. Jeg har altid syntes, at tyskerne afslørede en sær karakterdetalje i hvordan deres lokummer tvinger en til at relatere til ens afføring. Men udover det enorme vandforbrug, så præsenterer et amerikansk lokum en, undskyld mig, påtvungen anal-stadie-agtig relation mellem producent og produkt/abject. Jeg kan ikke lade være med at tænke på hvad det både siger om og gør ved en nations karakteristika… For øvrigt har alle offentlige toiletter jeg har været på so far et par ekstra store kabiner og ditto kummer. Til oversize…

GÅ IKKE OVER…
I Tuscon er der endnu ikke lavet et bypass til togene, sådan som man har gjort det i Phoenix, Tempe. Så her drøner kilometerlange godstog gennem bymidten hen mod ti gange i timen – kan du genkalde dig lyden af et amerikansk togs tuden? Well, præcis sådan, bare mere voldsomt fordi det er lige ved siden af dig/udenfor bygningen… Og i lang lang tid, mens det drøner gennem byen. Dernæst tager det så op til 6 minutter før hele togstammen er væk… Vi taler containere i ca vor kendte Maersk-størrelse, men to og to – og med op til 4 lokomotiver. Ruten er Union Pacific – Canada til Stillehavet. Masser af kinesisk gods.

Hørt i venteområde i lufthavn:
”I lost mine…!? I used to have a quiet moment.”

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